Eating Tomorrow

The reading assigned for this week takes a look at two very different regions of the world united by a central crop: corn. Starting in Mozambique, Wise begins by discussing the environmental/climate restrictions that agribusinesses felt were cause for concern and necessary to implement their inorganic methods of farming into and then follows this background by asserting the self-reliance of the Mozambique people through their own trusted methods of combatting climate control and producing successful crops. This serves as a introduction to the first few chapters of the reading discussing growing corn in Africa and their struggle to do so without the over-barring, and often detrimental, presence of agribusiness and biotech industries. Similar to the reading about chicken last week, these business seem to care more about the potential monetary gain that they can benefit from than the success of the local farmers and health of the families they are supposed to be providing. It was shocking to learn that farmers receive a mere 15% of the revenue generated by their crops and that the farmers are tasked with taking on high risks with very low rewards, similar to last weeks readings; much of the burden and unfair practices are projected onto the producer, and the large monopoly-like companies have no regard for their effects. Such input from these large companies caused African farmers, specifically in Malawi, to focus on how they can be more self-reliant (another theme that seems central to studying foodways) and saw a shift from large-scale, quick, and cheap, not to mention damaging, farming to more local, small-scale, environmentally friendly methods. But the presence of these business remain regardless of the involvement of advocacy groups and protest of local farmers, citing false myths such as food scarcity and crisis as reasons why they need to be involved and why local farms need to utilize their synthetic and chemical fertilizers/seeds in order to save an over-run population from starvation. By using these misleading and selfish practices, such industries are able to keep a firm hold on poor and politically disadvantaged farmers in Africa and other parts of the world.

In the second section of the reading, Wise discusses the growth of corn in Mexico, where it is a staple crop as well. Here, though, Wise focusses on corn as a culturally important crop to this population and how the presence of Genetically Modified strands pose health concerns as well as barriers to authentic yields of corn. Similar to Africa, the government is closely aligned with biotech firms, which causes a continuance of unhealthy and unsafe agricultural practices to occur throughout Mexico despite conferences held featuring environmental and advocacy groups reporting on the negative effects of these practices. It is appalling to read that these groups present solid, scientific evidence to contradict the government and biotech industries claims of success, yet they are overruled and overlooked in favor of the rich agribusiness potential. It seems as thought those most effected by the decisions, the farmers, have the least say. Hopefully in class we can discuss why governments knowingly engage with biotech agencies though they are fully aware of the adverse effects. I am curious to know if it is solely based on political and monetary gain, or if there is more to it.

Eating Tomorrow

In Wise’s “Eating Tomorrow” we learn in depth about how we get fed so easily. The world’s population is so vast that you would think that machines and robots keep it running, but I was definitely surprised. Wise talks in great detail about small scale farmers in Mexico and Africa. With major food businesses basically running a monopoly with the world’s foods, they rob these countries of their resources while working millions of small scale farmers like dogs. They’re the ones who feed us day-to-day, and that’s what was eye opening to me. I knew about small farmers in under developed countries, but I wasn’t fully aware of the numbers. Plus, they’re doing it with not the best tools and resources, but what the advantage they have is the knowledge to grow all these foods. GMO’s are in just about every single food item in the USA, it was satisfying to read on the practices and methods these farmers use to grow food the clean and natural way, it for sure gave me some more knowledge on food-ways and the future of food just like every week has this semester.

Eating Tomorrow: Global Market struggles and Seeds

Timothy A Wise puts in perspective the future with ‘Eating Tomorrow’ predicting the future methods and struggles that will arrive in the world of food justice within due time. Wise is concerned about the prominence of small farms and the use of GMOs, focusing on the ways Farmers in Malawi have combated the implementation of GMOs in their agriculture market. Wise also critics the big agribusiness model of pushing these GMO seeds onto the world. juxtaposing the Malawi monoculture focus on Maize, and Monsanto with the way the food system runs across the global market, specifically what we see in Mexico is important to see the possible ways we can affect the way the market is run here, showing the fact that it can be changed. While it was shown that more steps have to be made to combat climate change, the subsidies method Malawi employed has done much good for our enverment. The full look at the way business is trying to dominate the seed market in Mexico is a stark reminder that we are in a crisis of moral and financial values in the world of farming now. These companies are facing resistance and the fight against them does not be seeming to slow down.

Eating Tomorrow

Before reading Eating Tomorrow by Timothy A Wise I am not sure why but I expected this to reading to fit with the narrative of industrialized fast food and we would discuss over processed food and food we eat being of the “future” and “tomorrow” in that sense. I obviously quickly realized that would not be the case as the reading focused on sub-saharan Africa and Mexico. Monsanto Is a agrochemical company that in terms of focus for this reading produce hybrid seeds and other agriculture commodities. Since I am facilitating this discussion I looked up Monsanto briefly before reading this and the suggested searches include “What is Monsanto and why is it bad?” “Where is Monsanto banned?” and most telling in my opinion “Why is Monsanto hated?” all from just googling the name. So I clearly went into this reading with some idea of the general consensus on Monsanto and disapproval of their brand that seems pretty prevalent. 

In the introduction WIse writes about his research and visiting family farms, agricultural conferences, agrochemical labs and other locations around the world. Immediately I began to sense a disconnect between farmers, government agencies and agrochemical corporations. The government seemed to put on a front as if they were supportive of their rural farmers and peasants, hosting a conference for them but with a wider lens you could see the superior and isolated treatment of the corporations who are after money and not prosperity. The rural peasants were telling government officials exactly what they needed but being corrupted by corporations such as Monsanto these were mostly ignored.  Then came the focus on Africa, more specifically Malawi in the reading. Wise was critical of the efforts made to bring Malawi’s agriculture into prosperity, initially government subsidies were working and leading Malawi farmers into successful crops. Eventually this began to plateau due to many reasons, drought, lack of sustainability of new crops, lack of continued support and many others.  Then came the downfall, leading to increased lack of food security due to the pressure on production and economic impact. The reading then shifts to Mexico where Maize has been the cornerstone of their agriculture which was periodically compared to Malawi. The influence of Monsanto became just as prominent and overbearing here.

In this reading I began to really take note of the disconnect between the people of Malawi, the government and the big agrochemical corporations. The corruption of the government by corporations such as Monsanto, which wrote the seed policy in Malawi, leads to the family farmers to be left helpless. With heavy pressure and focus on production the “green revolution” and “Malawi Miracle” are only successful on the surface. With increased production but arguably increased food insecurity the introduction of agrochemical products such as synthetic fertilizer and hybrid seeds becomes a source of increased debate.

Eating Tomorrow

In Eating Tomorrow by Timothy Wise the issue of sustainable methods of farming and use of Genetically Modified Organisms comes to the forefront. Farmers in Malawi have been able to successfully utilize non GMO seeds to produce healthy crop for years. Meanwhile the rest of the world is pushed to use GMO seeds by big business. While big business does its thing and pushes its product onto the world farmers do their thing and do everything humanly possible to stick to their ways. The practices of the farmers have been proven to be more effective and better for the environment, given that they utilize crop rotation, a process in which different crops are planted different seasons in order to let the soil replenish vital nutrients. Big business refused to cooperate with the farmers of Malawi despite the vast knowledge of agriculture the farmers had. New programs for farm subsidy input further pushed the Malawian farmers to use GMO seeds by providing financial support to farmers who adopted the new methods, but failed to assist with attaining irrigation equipment.

Malawi suffered immense flooding and drought within a fairly short amount of time and with this the government took action by implementing subsidy programs for the farmers to help push food growth. Malawi saw a boom in food production by practicing seed saving, crop rotation, and using natural fertilizers. Cross pollenated seeds were also utilized to speed up food production, which worked for the first year but saw a dramatic drop off the next, forcing farmers to buy more. The farmers that solely utilized intercropping, not the hybrid seeds, saw better results. In Mexico farmers have the issue of being pushed into using GMO corn crops and fighting against this as the introduction of this corn will taint their natural corn.

Eating Tomorrow

In Eating Tomorrow, author Timothy Wise explains how farmers in Malawi and Mexico are resisting the reach of big agribusiness by employing sustainable farming practices and growing local varieties of their cash crops. He also talks about the methods those same agribusinesses, particularly Monsanto, to pressure governments to implement policies that would favor big businesses at the expense of the small farmers, the environment, and the country’s biodiversity. This is an ongoing story, and one case he discussed was still being fought over in the Mexican court system when this book was being published.

Wise begins by recounting what he learned over several trips to Malawi. The country is known for having a monoculture focused on maize, and Monsanto controls a significant percentage of the market. Local farmers have faced pressure to switch to Monsanto’s hybrid seeds from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa’s (AGRA), which has lobbied the Malawi government to loosen regulations on genetically modified seeds under the guise of climate change preparedness. While this increases profits for the big businesses, the more expensive seeds and the fertilizers and pesticides they require cut into the farmers’ profits, and there are no subsidies for irrigation, making the crops susceptible to drought and other extreme weather. However, after a series of bad crops that left people hungry across the nation, the Malawi government decided to switch its focus to wide-ranging subsidies that benefited farmers rather than businesses. Between these new subsidies and farmers adopting more sustainable practices like intercropping, as well as growing native, hardy varieties of maize, Malawi began to see improvements. However, after a few years, it became clear that these subsidies were not a perfect solution, and more steps need to be taken to combat the repercussions of climate change.

In chapter seven, Wise discusses a similar situation in Mexico, the home of maize. Monsanto, along with several other large seed companies, has been trying to get their GMO seeds into Mexican farmland for several years. Unlike in Malawi, the big companies focus on profit and productivity rather than climate change. Another difference is the resistance the companies have faced from the government, farmers, and consumers. Though Monsanto initially won some allowances for their GMO seeds, genes from those plants were soon discovered in some of the hundreds of local varieties. This, along with some tortilla companies mixing GMO maize into their recipes, sparked outrage in the general public and set off a class-action lawsuit to preserve the biodiversity and agricultural sovereignty of Mexican maize. Though the agribusinesses are still fighting to get into the Mexican market, their opposition has the support of the new president and a large organization of farmers, and the fight does not seem to be letting up any time soon.

Eating Tomorrow

I am really glad this reading gave me more insight into kind of what we had touched on before when we watched that video about GMOs. Obviously, from the pro-GMO lady, there’s only good things but just the way she talks about it makes you kind of doubt yourself and like think oh, maybe GMOs are totally fine. For example, showing all the types of fruit that we eat that are already genetically modified made me feel kind of dumb because I didn’t know that we’re already eating that. then showing how GM crops we’re resilient to harsh weather, it’s like wow farmers don’t lose as much crop. However, Eating Tomorrow shows that GMOs aren’t positive everywhere. GMO crops ensure dependance on agribusiness to buy seeds year after year because they can’t save the seeds. We see this in Malawi. In Malawi, the government has programs that encourage the use of GM crops. The farmers need to buy fertilizer as well which completely messes up the soil and gets rid of the bio diversity. Interestingly enough, AGRA didn’t fund irrigation systems and stuff so farmers are still struggling. In Mexico, GM threatens natural varieties in the area and imposes a threat to farmers there as well. Agribusiness steps in and really damages local farmers income and basically takes over by pushing them to use fertilizer and GM crops.

Eating Tomorrow

Eating Tomorrow, written by Timothy Wise talks about farmers all over the world, specifically Malawi. The farms were discussing here are farms that have been in natural disasters and have experienced many hardships. These farmers have also had to fight back against outside forces such as climate change and the global agri-business. Wise focuses on how climate change has changed farming and made it more difficult for small farmers around the world. Big agro-business continues to push down on these farms and try to get them to buy there GMO seeds.

In Mexico the government was on the side of the big business therefore the big agro-business could threaten and try and force the small maize diversity farming in Mexico. The GM crops that the small farmers were being sold were controversial, they had to be planted in certain places or they wouldn’t grow. Around the world in kitchens cooks are not fans of cooking with GM’s because of how bad they are. These big agro-businesses aren’t looking to better the world and quality of food, they’re only worried about the money.

Eating Tomorrow

In the book Eating Tomorrow, writer Timothy Wise explores the methods that small farmers around the world use to push back against the existential threats that global agri-business corporations and climate change pose to their livelihoods. In the introduction, Wise says that his motivation for writing this book is to promote affordable farming strategies that he feels are being overlooked in favor of business-centric solutions. Through the course of the book he also analyzes ways in which Monsanto and other major companies control agriculture around the world, maximizing profit at the expense of small farmers.

Malawi is one country that rejected global help and subsidized their own farmers – the initial success of this initiative helped prove that this can be a viable option. However, climate change and other factors would later cause the gains made during the “Malawi Miracle” to fade away. Later in Eating Tomorrow Wise goes into the battles that Mexican corn farmers have had with Monsanto, mostly over genetically modified corn. The concern was that diverse maize crops would be genetically undermined by the cross-pollination that could occur between it and Monsanto’s GM maize. There is also hesitation among many due to questions about how healthy it is for a human to center so much of their diet around genetically modified food.

Eating Tomorrow

In Timothy Wise’s Eating Tomorrow, he discusses how farmers in various countries, specifically looking at Malawi, have been able to continue to use sustainable methods of growing food in a world where big businesses and corporations are pushing them to use GMO seeds. These farmers have been able to produce drought-resistant and encouraged the cultivation of rich soil through these various techniques, that have not been manufactured in a lab like the GMO seeds. One of the techniques that are heavily used by these farmers is intercropping. Intercropping is when farmers grow two crops near each other to ensure that the soil is still nutrient-rich. However, major agribusinesses have now begun to move to Africa and use these seeds which then makes it so they are using up native farmer’s land and making it harder for native farmers to sell their goods. These agribusinesses and their techniques are all examples of neocolonialism and are extremely damaging to native farmers.

In the section that centers around Mexico and maize, local farmers are having to fight against the introduction of GM maize to their crops. These farmers are worried about the effects of introducing GM pollen to their “pure” maize.In addition to this, there is little known about the potential affects that GM maize could have on people. However, this worry has not dissuaded the government from allowing agribusinesses into the country and letting them farm on their land. The biggest claim that these agribusinesses, like Monsanto, have to introducing GM maize crops is that it would help being people out of poverty by increasing production. However, what these agribusinesses, and what Wise points out, is that much of the poverty that people in Mexico face is due to unemployment caused by mechanized labor. These GM maize crops that Monsanto is wanting to introduce into Mexico would give way for the Mexican government to regulate the production of maize. This would directly impact food sovereignty, which is farmers main goal. Local farmers have, thus far, been able to prevent Monsanto from introducing GM maize crops into the area, thereby still maintaining food sovereignty.